Most parents of young children deal with ear infections at one time or another. But when ear infections become chronic or begin to interfere with your child’s hearing, doctors may suggest ear tube surgery (myringotomy). Nemours Ear, Nose, and Throat surgeons perform thousands of myringotomy procedures each year, which translates to better outcomes for the children receiving them.
Many kids between the ages of 6 months and 2 years get middle ear infections called otitis media, or OM. Although ear infections are relatively easy to treat, if a child has multiple ear infections that do not get better easily or is seems experiencing hearing loss or speech delay, ear tube surgery may be recommended.
The surgery is called a myringotomy and the ear tubes themselves are called tympanostomy tubes or PE (Pressure Equalizing) tubes. A surgeon performing a myringotomy makes a tiny opening in the child’s eardrum to provide a way to remove fluid or infection from the middle ear. Small tubes may be placed in the opening permit proper drainage and allow air into the middle ear.
Depending on the type used, the tube remains in place for about 6 months to 18 months or more. Usually, surgery to remove a tympanostomy tube isn't necessary as the tube often falls out on its own, pushed out as the eardrum heals.
At Nemours, we encourage you to share any questions or concerns you may have about the myringotomy procedure and we’ll do our best to thoroughly explain your child’s surgery. Knowing what to expect can help ease the stress and make things much easier for everyone in your family.